Shop 3, Blamey Place, Campbell, ACT
Traditional Malaysian cuisine has made its way to the Australian capital – and you’ll find it in all its glory at Lanterne Rooms. Since 2008, this Campbell restaurant has built a culinary reputation for serving up traditional Nyonya cooking and flavours with a fine-dining finesse.
For most visitors to the capital city, this Penang-style eatery can come as a surprise, with a décor reminiscent of another time and place. The colonial-style fit-out features a thatched roof and dark wooden accents, brightened with red floral flourishes. Stained glass windows, paper lanterns and traditional artworks also adorn the venue, all conveying the strong Malay theme.
Lanterne Rooms is owned and run by Josiah Li, whose 35 years’ experience on Canberra’s hospitality circuit in venues like The Chairman and Yip means that he knows how to create a successful Canberra restaurant. Josiah enlisted the trusted hands of Head Chef, Daniel Mark, whose Indian and Malaysian heritage is strongly represented in the menu. Taking inspiration from flavour, Daniel also looks to the seasons to influence the menu, which he adapts according to the freshest produce available from local suppliers.
There are, however, a selection of signature dishes whose unwavering popularity has earned them a solid place. The Tom Yum Infused Prawns are set at the top of the menu, and rightly so. Served with rockmelon and apple, this fresh seafood dish is a light, fresh start to a flavoursome dining experience. Also featured is the Kampung Wagyu Beef Curry, which is slow-cooked to produce a powerful Asian flavour with red chilli, lime, kaffir and tamarind. A selection of desserts follows, of course, with offerings like the Indian-Inspired Frozen Zabaglione with hints of pineapple and a Date Mousse infused with Kahlua.
If desserts aren’t your style, opt for a glass of sweet wine imported from Hungary or a nip of French cognac to round off the meal. A carefully curated selection of wines, from sparkling to white, rosé and red, have been chosen in harmony with the menu. Cocktails also take their inspiration from the Southeast Asian theme, like the Nyonyatini – a Malaysian take on the classic espresso martini spiced with nutmeg and crème de cacao, or the Mandarin Vodka Martini with elderflower and mint. Alternatively, you can bring your own and enjoy the dining experience with your favourite drop.
In keeping with its strong theme, annual celebrations are held to coincide with the Malaysian and wider Asia region calendar, like Chinese New Year and Hari Raya. Collaborations are also frequently held with local and international wine producers to put on pairings, pourings and wine dinners that complement the restaurant’s food offerings.